Matcha is a precious stone-ground green tea powder. It is one of the most premium varieties of tea in Japan. Good quality matcha has a bright green vibrant color, the Best quality matcha is produced in Kyoto, Japan, where the first seed was planted more than 800 years ago and where the standard Japanese tea processing method was developed.
Matcha VS Green Tea
Unlike traditional green tea, Matcha is grown under the shade to avoid direct sunlight which increases chlorophyll content on the leaves. It is from hand-picked premium young leaves, steamed briefly to stop fermentation after the leaves are dried and then stone-ground into a fine powder. It takes one hour to grind 30-40 grams of ultra-fine powder. When we are drinking matcha, we are actually getting the whole tea leaf’s nutrients and vitamins. Studies have shown that matcha has the nutritional value of up to 10 cups of regular green tea and up to 137 x the antioxidants of regular green tea. It’s great for an energy boost and mental focus.
The 1st harvest is in May, Also refer as First Flush. The first Harvest young leaves are carefully plucked by hand to make sure the absolute finest leaves are picked. The first harvest high-end tea in Japan is called Shincha(新茶) It has an extremely rich and strong aroma and deep flavor.
The 2nd Harvest is in June. The second harvest tea has a very tasteful aroma, and the taste is a little lighter compared to the first harvest Shincha(新茶).
The second Harvest is premium tea and it has the most Catechins (EGCG), Which will boost Metabolism and Antioxidant Effects.
The 3rd harvest is in July and August, The price is cheaper compared to the 1st and 2nd harvest.
The 4th harvest is in September and October. It usually processed into Genmaicha（玄米茶）by mixing it with roasted brown rice.
Matcha & Zen
Matcha is the focus of the Japanese tea ceremony and associated with Zen for over 800 years. In ancient times, Samurai, the noble warriors drank Matcha before going into the battle to enhance their energy and stayed focused and centered. The taste is strong and vegetal. Some people would say it takes like spinach and grassy with an umami character. Since it’s in a powder form, nowadays it is also used in bakery and green smoothie and Latte.
Matcha Health Benefits
Matcha is also known for its amazing health benefits. It comes from the same plant as green tea, but since it is made from the entire leaf, it packs in a more concentrated amount of antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. It is full of antioxidants. Among antioxidants, catechins are the most potent and beneficial. One specific catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) makes up 60% of the catechins in Matcha. EGCG is widely recognized for its cancer-fighting properties. It also boosts metabolism and helps weight loss naturally. Other amazing health benefits include improve cholesterol and blood pressure, prevent heart disease.
Matcha contains caffeine. The caffeine inherent in it releases into the bloodstream slowly, This provides the body with the right amount of caffeine over a longer period of time, it typically lasts at least three hours, though many people report feeling it for as long as six or seven hours. With traditional coffee and energy drinks, the caffeine could create an extreme harsh rush in our body by dumping all the caffeine at once. It starts off with a blast and ends in a crash later in the day. The caffeine in coffee causes spikes in adrenaline glucose and insulin levels, which in turn create jitteriness, nervousness.
Like other products, Matcha also has different grades. The most common ones are ceremonial grade and culinary grade. A ceremonial grade is usually used in tradition Matcha tea. Culinary grade is usually used in latte and bakery. Each company defines grades differently.